After months and months of rumors and speculation, Amazon finally introduced its set-top-box, Fire TV. Based on the latest Fire OS "Mojito" platform, the new box includes voice search that, according to the company, "actually works," allowing users to simply speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director, or genre into the remote. Amazon's Fire TV is available now for a surprising cost of just $99 USD.
The specs show that the box measures just 0.7 inches thin, and packs a quad-core processor along with a dedicated Adreno 320 graphics engine. There's also 2 GB of memory, dual-band Wi-Fi, Full HD 1080p streaming, and both HDMI and optical audio-out, enabling up to 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.
Video apps available now on Fire TV include Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, YouTube and more. The device also ships with Amazon's Instant Video client, providing access to the company's library of over 200,000 movies and TV episodes. On the music front, the new box plays host to Pandora, iHeartRadio, Tunein, Amazon MP3 and a number of others.
"Fire TV comes automatically pre-registered so you can immediately get started," states Amazon's PR. "No complicated set-up, no hassle—just plug it in and start watching. All of your previously purchased movies and TV shows from Amazon, as well as personalized recommendations and your Watchlist, will be there waiting for you when you turn on Fire TV."
Predicts Your Viewing Habits
Amazon introduces a new service called ASAP, or Advanced Streaming and Prediction. Based on the user's Watchlist and recommendations, the feature will predict what the customer will watch next and preload the content for playback so that the user doesn't have to wait on buffering. The caching predictions will get better over time, the company indicates.
The new set-top-box also provides a Chromecast-like service called Fling TV, allowing users to fling content from a phone or tablet to the box. There's also X-Ray for movies that provides information about cast and crew, the names of songs as they play, and so on. For parents, the box even comes equipped with Amazon FreeTime so you don't have to worry about what the kids are watching on TV. Parents with a Kindle Fire tablet will see their FreeTime settings carried over to the set-top-box.
In addition to movies and music, the new set-top-box will also provide games that are optimized for Fire TV. These include Minecraft, Monsters University, The Game of Life, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, Despicable Me: Minion Rush, and more. Over 100 games are now available, with "thousands" of additional titles appearing next month. Amazon is also launching a Fire TV app that turns smartphones and tablets into a touch-based controller.
That said, Amazon introduced a new Bluetooth controller that provides up to 55 hours of gameplay on a pair of AA batteries. The controller has an integrated GameCircle button giving instant access to leaderboards, achievements and friends with a simple touch of a button from any GameCircle enabled game. The controller can also be used as a remote control.
For $99, Amazon customers will have access to music, movies, TV shows, games and Amazon exclusive content. Is Fire TV worth the cost? Releasing tablets made sense for Amazon, as its Kindle line seemingly focuses on the reader and shopper first, followed by multimedia. With the new set-top-box, the company is focusing on multimedia as well as the Amazon shopper.
"Just like on Amazon.com, Fire TV integrates viewing options on a single page so you can always choose the lowest price," states the PR.
For more information about Fire TV, head here.